Tuesday, May 28, 2013

sea gooseberry ~ 05/28/13 ~ Asilomar Beach


These looked very much like glass cat's eye marbles scattered across the sand.  Since we had no idea what these were, we simply called them "jelly beach marbles."  And, that's exactly what I typed in to start my internet search for an ID.  It seems there are plenty of other folks who are wondering what the heck these common little blobs are, too, but there's so much misinformation around, calling them fish eggs (wrong), baby jellyfish (wrong), to salps (wrong, again). Sea gooseberries are a type of comb jelly, aka ctenophore, different than jellyfish and the myriad of other gelatinous animals. There are several spp. of Pleurobrachia found around the world. Fellow bloggers Jessica Winder @ Jessica's Nature Blog and Phil @ Cabinet of Curiosities have some nice pictures of P. pileus found across the pond.  For stunning feeding photos of P. bachei and a gnarly Beroe sp. (another comb jelly), check out Merry at ScubaBoard.com.

Usually, I avoid touching anything jelly-like on the beach for fear of being stung.  This time my curiosity got the better of me.  I poked one and discovered it didn't hurt at all (well, at least not me).  In my attempts to get the lighting and focus just right for a picture (er, 98 pictures!), I managed to smoosh one in my fingers.  Poor thing.  It's very liquidy.  Next time, I'd like to plop a couple into a jar to see them move.  And for those like me who didn't know, especially since local native gooseberries look nothing like this, here's what a traditional gooseberry is.

10 comments:

Jennifer said...

These are so cool! The only time I have ever seen any is at the aquarium. I love seeing their rainbow colors in the dark.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Ya, it's kind of wild how you don't really get a good sense of the jelly texture when they're in ocean water and highlighted with cool lights. Most have bioluminescence, but apparently not this Pacific species, which merely reflects light really well: combjellies.wikispaces.com

John W. Wall said...

Thanks for the info! I remember seeing a bunch of them last year and just not stopping to really check them out. Glad you did!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Glad to be of service, John. I'm usually the one learning stuff from you!

Jennifer and Steve said...

Super cool!!! I've never seen these before. Hope you are well!

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, was out surfing this morning and could feel them in the water. When you take them out of the water they are a jelly blob with a freckle in the middle, but when you put them back in the water they glow blue.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Kia, is that you? Thanks for the info, Anon!

Tammy Naugler said...

I found these yesterday .. and I had to pick one up. Really cool!!

Tammy Naugler said...

Found some of these on North East Point beach yesterday ... they were everywhere !!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Interesting, Tammy. Are you in Seychelles off the coast of Africa, or near Washington D.C. in Maryland? We went out to Asilomar today and only found large jellyfish w/ purple-streaked centers and many sea butterflies, which when washed up on the shore look like doll-sized jelly shoes: http://natureid.blogspot.com/2014/07/sea-butterfly-071614-asilomar-beach.html. I'm guessing you're in another part of the world. I sometimes see the oceans as one big bathtub that sloshes back and forth through the seasons.